Means and ends

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Wouldn’t it be nice to have a Presidential candidate where the means and the end weren’t the exact same thing? In the 25 or so years I’ve spent working in government and politics – municipal govt, state govt, federal govt, executive branch, legislative branch, campaigns – the most salient thing I learned is that 99% of politicians are desperately insecure, often self-loathing people who can’t live without the validation and attention that comes with running for and holding office. To them, not having constant attention is the same thing as not living at all, which is why every decision they make is solely driven by political inputs and nothing else (asking them to risk losing attention is like asking you or me to go without oxygen).

So for most of the two dozen candidates likely running for President, the goal is met simply by getting attention paid to their campaign. If we’re talking about their prospects, writing about their candidacy, debating their chances, then they’re getting exactly what they want, regardless of the outcome. Most of them know that they’re not going to win. But that has nothing to do with the decision to run. If a politician gets them talked about as a potential President, that’s great. It’s the next best thing to actually being President (on many days, it’s probably better).

The best argument for Mike Bloomberg to run for President is that he’s the only politician I’ve ever met where the means and the ends aren’t the same thing. He doesn’t like campaigning. He doesn't like shaking hands and kissing babies. He doesn’t like being attacked or attacking others. He likes doing the actual work once in office and understands that campaigns are a prerequisite to get there.

I don’t know if Mike will run, and like any candidate in the field, the odds of success are relatively low. But whether it’s Biden or Harris or Warren or Sanders or someone else, it would be great if the point of running was more than to assuage their own insecurities and fulfil their own personal destiny.

Bradley Tusk